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Deep River

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Karl Marlantes’s debut novel Matterhorn, a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, has been hailed as a modern classic of war literature. In his new novel, Deep River, Marlantes turns to another mode of storytelling—the family epic—to craft a stunningly expansive narrative that is no less rich and honest in its ...more
Kindle Edition, 820 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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4.22  · 
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 ·  101 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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laurel [suspected bibliophile]
DNF at 34%

The trials and tribulations of the Koski siblings as they flee from Russian-occupied Finland to logging country in Washington state in the early 20th century.

To be fair, I am not the target demographic for this book, and it was made abundantly clear to me the more I read it.

This is the kind of book that boomer-aged white guys love—that thick, historical fiction tome that is both interesting and something you can show off.

Think James Michener or Ken Follett (although I actually kinda l
Jessica Sullivan
I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this 700+ page tome as much as I did. Turns out it was an incredibly fascinating and rewarding read.

This family epic follows the three Koski siblings (Ilmari, Mattie and Aino) as they make their way from Finland to America's pacific northwest in the early 1900s and begin working in the dangerous, grueling logging industry.

Aino is the central focal point of the narrative: a feminist heroine radicalized by her associat
Karen Kay
I received this from for a review.

In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia's imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, the three Koski siblings--Ilmari, Matti, and the politicized young Aino--are forced to flee to the United States.

Good Beginning but overall the book could have been several pages shorter. I lost interest in the minutia, and there was a lot of minutia.

Lolly K Dandeneau
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
'Anger at the senseless cruelty of it all kept her awake at night.'

Escaping Russian rule, siblings Ilmari, Matti, and Aino immigrate to America joining other Finns in the hopes that they will find the perfect place to thrive. Ilmari is the first to leave Finland, to avoid being drafted in the Russian army he flees his homeland. In America, Ilmari is a devout man who builds a farm of his own and a blacksmith shop before his brother Matti follows.
Bonnye Reed
Deep River is a marathon of a historical novel, one you cannot bear to put aside. We follow the children of Maijaliisa and Tapio Koski from Kokkola, Finland as they immigrated to the communities of the Columbia River basin (known then as the Deep River) between Washington and Oregon, USA, and became an important element in the timber industry and the Colombia River basin, as the family spread out and grew. The Koski family were hard working, a credit to their community, a settlement comprised fo ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deep River is the story of the Koski family. One by one, members of the family flee Finland. They do this for political activism, avoiding army conscription, etc. They go to southern Washington state where there is a Finnish community. The Kolski family joins the logging business because it's the prevailing occupation at the time in this region. As the story unfolds, the terrible living conditions are described. Worse, however, are the dangers associated with logging. I learned so much from read ...more
Hannah Grace || BookNerdNative
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was deeply gripping and included stunning detail. This is the kind of historical fiction that is unforgettable. This story has completely 3 dimensional characters, who are wonderful and flawed and completely lifelike. This book made me shed a couple of tears, and gave a really insightful look into the early labor movement. This book was wonderful for fans of deep character development, long and engrossing stories, wonderful and lyrical writing, and many passionate arguments against cap ...more
Aimee Dars
Marlantes, Karl - Deep River

Deep River follows the Koski siblings--Aino, Ilmari, and Matti--from childhood in Russian-occupied Finland to their settlement in the Pacific Northwest as they enter adulthood and begin families of their own. Ilmari, the first to arrive in the United States, homesteads on a large piece of land he received. Matti, the youngest, embraces capitalism as a way to protect himself from fears seated in childhood. Aino, however, the middle child and only girl, interested in communism from a young age, de
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Deep River by Karl Marlantes
Deep River
Karl Marlantes

Tentative Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Tentative Price: $30.00

Karl Marlantes states "this novel is not a retelling of The Kalevala but rather a tale highly influenced by it" (page 720, ARC). This is helpful to know when stepping into the churning waters of Deep River. Marlantes has crafted an accomplished melding of the "shamanic past" with the cultural realities of logging, fishing, and bootlegging set primarily in and around the Columbia River basin
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
*Thanks to Goodreads & Grove Atlantic for providing me with an advance reader’s copy of this – I absolutely LOVED Matterhorn and I was thrilled to be selected for one of these copies!*

Marlantes' Deep River is an impressive tome that chronicles a family of Finnish immigrants fleeing Finland for better opportunities in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s. The book is many things, including an immigrant story, an account of labor struggles at the birth of the 20th century, and an allegory
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not gonna lie. I wanted another Matterhorn. I loved Matterhorn so much for being so true to the experience of a marine in Vietnam. Of course, it was written by a Vietnam veteran who has now turned to Finnish immigrants in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century. So....not Matterhorn. I suppose I'll forgive Marlantes. He brings the plight of the Koski family to vivid life while teaching a history lesson on the birth of unions, the logging district, the politics of bootlegging in the ...more
Sean Munoz
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't the most hard hitting I had read in a while. The description and the cover is very attention catching, but the actual content leaves little satisfaction.
Allison Valentine
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its early 1900s and Russia is in the imperial rule and takes Finland by control.
Three family members flee to America they settle in Colombia River in Washington.
The brothers Ilmari, Matti and Aino began their life in the wilderness by working hard and trying to make ends meet and start a family.
This is a very moving account of immigration life and sacrifice to leave your home behind and start again in a new country.
Kim McGee
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A classic Americana tale of immigrant families who settled the lands of the Pacific Northwest. The Finns who ran from Russian oppression and the Swedes who came looking for an opportunity are featured as they work to create a logging empire in the early 1900's Washington. Old customs and racial divides were not forgotten in this new land of great natural beauty as well as the chance to conquer the impossible and make something of yourself. At the center of the tale is the radical and independent ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We agree to be unbiased in our book reviews, but what are you to do when given the opportunity to review one of your favorite authors? Karl Marlantes of “Matterhorn” and “What It Is Like to Go to War” fame has taken the about-face with the subject of his new novel, but his talent and lyrical writing talent maintains its strong presence in this epic tale spanning over 80 years about immigrants surviving in the logging trade in Northwest America, early 1900s. Finns and Swedes are thrown together, ...more
Recently I made a list for a patron who enjoyed "whole life" novels. This is one such novel, following about 80 years in the life of Aino, a woman from Finland who flees Russian occupation and persecution and imprisonment as a political dissident to join her brothers in Washington State in the early 1900s. Aino is a devoted Marxist, an accidental midwife who apprenticed with her mother after the Russians took her father away, and a passionate idealist who devotes her life to union organizing and ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part immigrant story, part labor history, all good, "Deep River" follows members of the Koski family as politicized members of the family flee Finland for southwest Washington State. There's a Finnish community there, lumbering and working small farms. Ilmari goes first, fleeing conscription into the Tsar's army and starting a small dairy farm. Matti follows, almost at the same time as his sister Aino, probably the most politically active of them all. Matti's still a child, but finds a place in ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Marlantes has written an epic novel that ranges from Finland to the Pacific Northwest of the USA, spanning the years from 1893-1932, and covering the dawn of the logging industry, IWW labor organizing, and WWI. Featuring the stories of 3 siblings who separately left Finland to escape the Russian domination of their homeland, Ilmari, Matti, and Aino have settled along the Columbia River in Washington state—it’s 1904. The story most closely follows Aino, the young sister, who arrives in the United ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enthusiastically recommend this book. I feel like I've just had a (highly enjoyable) crash history course on Finland, socialism vs capitalism, northwest America, labor unions, and more. The history lessons are rich, but the plot was not compromised for historical accuracy in any way.

In the beginning, it felt a bit like my first read of Anna Karenina, needing to acclimate myself to a wide berth of characters with names obscure to my native language, but it didn't take long, and I was devouring
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-2019
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Three Koski siblings-Ilmari, Aino, and Matti-escape Finland during political unrest and find a home in Deep River, Washington. The two boys find jobs in the dangerous logging profession while Aino, the central character of the book, works in the logging kitchens. She sees the terrible working conditions of the men working long hours for little pay and becomes a strong voice fo
Steven Z.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In DEEP RIVER, author Karl Marlantes moves on from his description of a company of Marines in Vietnam who tried to recapture a mountain top base that formed the basis of his award-winning book, MATTERHORN and his unique description of combat in his memoir, WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR. In his latest effort he takes on a different type of warfare centering around the battle between labor and capitalists in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century through 1932. Focusing on a Finnish i ...more
Sandra Pipitone
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an enjoyable book, would of like to see this book done as a series. Thought it was a little long but did enjoy!
The Book Beggar
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Deep River by Karl Marlantes
⭐⭐⭐3 of 5 Stars
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press - July 2nd, 2019

I cannot recall why I had been so eager to request and read this book. Thinking back on it, I recall it being on my list of books I was interested by that was going to be released in 2019. Each year I comb through long lists of books and set aside names of books that I think could be a good read for one reason or another.

I struggled with this book. It was not at all something that I would normally go
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Who knew that Finns have such a long and proud history of immigration to America?

Certainly not I: in fact, this whole book was an eye-opener. By turns passionate, informative and political, this book is definitely a stonking piece of fiction, and hats off to Karl Marlantes for tackling such a huge topic over the course of one single novel.

Deep River is the story of the Koski siblings: Ilmari, Aino and Matti, who emigrate from Finland to America one by one in order to escape political persecution
Daniel Cuthbert
Epic in every sense of the word, “Deep River” concerns three Finnish family members, Ilmari, Matti, and Aino. The three migrate from Finland to Oregon around the turn of the century and find themselves embroiled in the timber industry in an effort to establish new and better lives for themselves, to varying degrees of success in this massive, 700+ page tome.

It’s very easy to look at a book this size and immediately run screaming for the hills, thinking there is no way that you could read anythin
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
There are two kinds of summer reads: (1) the “beach read” consisting of a page-turning mystery or rom-com -- sufficiently entertaining, but not overly serious; and (2) the 700+ page immersive family saga – think Roots or The Thorn Birds. Summer affords the requisite leisure time to tackle a hefty book. Deep River falls into the latter category.

The book depicts the experiences of the three Koski siblings – Ilmari, Aino, and Matti -- from their childhood in Finland, to their individual journeys to
Jen Sainty
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Set in the early 1900s, from it’s inception this story promises brutal honesty; we’re plunged into it from the very first page. I found the book to be a portal into the historical struggle of the Finnish of which many outside of Finland and Northern Europe would not be aware; in fact the entire Russian rule of Finland was news to me, and in this way the novel was deeply informative.
Though fiction, the fact that so many have lived through similar ordeals as those touched by the pages of this nove
Dan Trefethen
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a superb book. I've read three marvelous books in my life about people's relationships with trees: Ken Kesey's “Sometimes a Great Notion”, Richard Powers' “The Overstory” (which won the Pulitzer Prize this year), and now this book.

While it's a story about the early days of logging, it's really a story about people working together to overcome their hardships, despite the fact that many of them are stubborn Finns. For people who love big stories (717 pages) about multiple generations facing
Another amazing book by former Marine (and Rhodes Scholar) Karl Marlantes. His first was the extraordinary novel about Vietnam, "Matterhorn." Deep River is a long and engaging saga of a group of young people who emigrate over a period of several years from rural Finland in the early 1900s to settle in the Washington/Oregon border area where the Columbia pours into the sea. They find work as loggers and fishermen, cooks and union organizers. They don't emigrate because they want to, but because f ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Historical fiction with arelatively short timeline but unusual focus, namely Finnish immigrants in Washington State at the turn of the 20th Century. Author Karl Marlantes had the opportunity to dive deep into political waters of early Socialism in Europe, beginnings of union organization in the USA, the challenges for immigrants escaping feudalism and hoping for success in capitalism. One constant handicap in the book, for me as a novice to the culture and community, were the names. I had so muc ...more
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A graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Karl Marlantes served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals. He is the author of Matterhorn, which won the William E. Colby Award given by the Pritzker Military Library, the Center For Fiction's Flaherty-Dunna ...more
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